Thursday, 1 May 2008

London Blues

The Smiths. Hmmm. I don't always get them. I love Johnny Marr's guitars. Morrisey's vocals and lyrics are great. Some songs are amazing. But I've never been what you would call a fan. I'm not sure what it is. All the ingredients are there: after all, it's not that far from Weller at his peak in The Jam and The Style Council to prime Smiths is it? I've known plenty of people who love The Smiths with a passion. There are countless bloggers who have praised them to the stars and back. So apologies for outing myself as somebody who isn't a fan.

I did like them initially. I bought What Difference Does It Make. And yes it had the original Terence Stamp sleeve. I've got one of the many best of compilations. I've listened to the proper albums inside out thanks to those people I knew I loved them.

But under the skin? No.

However there is a song and performance that I adore. It stands as one of my all time favourite recordings. And on a night when I might be seeing a Tory in charge of London a piece of beautiful melancholy by Morrisey/Marr seems kind of fitting.

Sandie Shaw - I Don't Owe You Anything

This was the b-side of her version of Hand In Glove. And, yes if you don't know this, that's The Smiths backing her. Man alive, Sandie sounds amazing on this. It really does make it sound like it's come from the soundtrack to some kitchen sink drama. I can almost see the foggy cobbled streets and dingy little flats. Cups of tea and toast. Winklepicker shoes and panda make up.

And the yearning: it's almost an instrument of it's own amidst the jangle.


And as something of a bonus here's her version of Jeane from the 12" of the Hand In Glove Single, plus her versions of a couple of 60s classics taken from her 1969 album Reviewing The Situation which Sandie produced herself. Told you I was into cover versions at the moment....My favourite here is the version of Sympathy For The Devil. How fast does that get? I dare you to try and dance to it!

Sandie Shaw - Jeane
Sandie Shaw - Lay Lady Lay
Sandie Shaw - Sympathy For The Devil


Davy H said...

And only this afternoon I was reaching my copy of the 'Hello Angel' LP down from the top cupboard and thinking...ooh, must upload this...

JC said...

Nice words Simon, although as a long-standing fan of the Smiths, I reserve the right to disagree.

I wont get ultra-defensive of Morrissey/Marr/Rourke/Joyce, suffice to say that the band arrived on the scene when I was 20 years of age, and they gave a huge kick in the arse to every other act that was on the planet at that point in time.

It wasnt just the records, but the interviews, the Peel sessions, the TOTP appearances, and above all else, the live gigs that made them so very very special. especially the early gigs at the smaller venues...(I'll return to that particular subject one day during the 45s rundown)

I never ever got bands such as The Beatles, the Who, The Rolling Stones or performers like Jimi Hendrix or David Bowie. But when people say that if I had seen them at their peak, I would have had a different view. And I think that's the same for a lot of non-fans of The Smiths....

The one great thing about the Sandie Shaw single was that she got 3/4 of the band on TOTP doing a memorable version of Hand In Glove in which they appeared barefoot in homage....


Simon said...

Davy H: we seem to be a little bit in sync at the moment. Scary!

I haven't heard Nothing Less Than Brilliant for years...

JC: The Smiths aren't a band I dislike - far from it in fact, but they never took me over like some of my faves did. I should have been the right age for them to be absolutely massive for me. And there really isn't a great deal between Weller, Morrisey and Kevin Rowland, even stylisticly. It just didn't happen. Kind of like going on a date with somebody that ticks all the boxes. Just not feeling that spark.

Sandie's version of the song on the other hand probably has a lot to do with my weakness for female vocals on tunes, so I can imagine myself the handsome moody guitarist who flirts with the singer on stage. ;)

Simon said...

And when I say 'one of my all time favourite recordings' I don't just mean The Smiths, I mean by anybody.

1984 though was a funny year...I stopped listening to the radio that year and started delving into the past via punk and the 60s. I got quite a bit of tunnel vision that actually stopped me listening to a lot of current bands.

Planet Mondo said...

At our wedding after the ceremony and signings we walked out to Sandie Shaw's 'Love Me Do' from Reviewing The Situation.

I wanted 'Bring Me Sunshine' - great words for a wedding I thought, but the idea got bounced

Davy H said...

Simon - couldn't resist: 'NLTB' and more here.

Simon said...

PM: Bring Me Sunshine....would have been sorta cool...but I wouldn't have been able to resist the moves....not a good idea on a wedding day!

Davy H said...

But perhaps a stout female relative could have obliged by doing the posh lady's 'I Love You All' bit at the end.